NATO will only invite the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to become a full member of the Alliance once Skopje has ratified the agreement with Greece on the name dispute and if a referendum in FYROM returns a ‘yes’ vote supporting this agreement, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday.
In statements as he arrived to attend a joint meeting of EU foreign affairs and defence ministers in Luxembourg, he replied that a decision for the start of FYROM’s accession talks will be taken by NATO heads of state and government at the summit in Brussels on July 12.
He expressed hope that NATO leaders will be able to reach agreement on the start of accession talks with Skopje but noted that NATO will wait until the name agreement is fully ratified before extending an invitation for full membership. He emphasized the “historic significance” of the agreement signed in Prespes, noting that it was an “historic opportunity” for Greece’s northern neighbour to become a full NATO member.
Stoltenberg also urged the people of FYROM to take advantage of this “unique opportunity” and support the name deal, noting that otherwise their country will not receive an invitation to join the Alliance. “I whole-heartedly support the agreement,” he said.